Painted X-ray Pictures

Medical physicist Arie van ’t Riet,  based in the Netherlands, searches for an example to demonstrate and visualise the influence of x-ray energy on the contrast of an x-ray image.


Under x-ray, a barn owl looks the same as a buzzard

“I arrived at flowers. After some years I started to edit and partly colour these x-ray images. And I added animals,” he says.

van ’t Riet now produces a series of x-ray artworks demonstrating the inner beauty of life.

This Hypercium grew at van ‘t Riet’s hospital entrance

“The x-rays demonstrate the complexity and the inner refinement of natural objects. See the pelvic structure of the frog.”

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The monkey is a mummy. Mummification damaged its innards


Wild flowers growing near Deventer, The Netherlands (


Python and protea flower. The snake’s trachea is visible

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A sole fish bought from a local fish market

Traffic victims, one buzzard ate a mouse before dying

This coot was also a traffic victim, killed by a car

Eels from the market with water lilies. Spot the frog (credit: Arie van ’t Riet / SPL)

Eels from the market with water lilies. Spot the frog

In real life, one monitor lizard is hidden

“Usually, the availability of an animal is decisive for the image. It starts with a traffic victim, or a reptile which died, or a fish from the market, or some prepared insects from the shop, or an animal caught by the cat,” he says.

“Next, I search for plants and flowers belonging to the habitat of the respective animal. From the animals and flowers and plants, I build my complete natural scene.”

A blackbird resting on magnolia

The dead chameleon came from a friend who bred reptiles

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Materials from BBC